Hello everyone! Let me start today’s article by saying that I don’t actually know everything there is to know on this topic. That probably sounds funny considering that I’m about to write an article on the subject, right? I guess my point is that growing my own blog is something that I feel I am constantly working at, reevaluating and revising as needed. There is no perfect science to follow (as far as I’m aware)..but there are definite things you can do to maximize your blogs’ growth potential and so I’ll touch on those here today. Ready to dive in?
- CUSTOM DOMAIN NAME / URL
Firstly, if you don’t already own/use a custom domain name/URL drop everything. Do not pass Go…do not collect $200 dollars until you have secured one. This is something that I wish I’d known in the very beginning. By the time I caught on to the importance of having my own domain name a web squatter had already grabbed the URL I wanted and it took well over a year and a lot of stress for me to finally obtain it. Why is a custom domain so important?
- For one thing it is much easier for your visitors to remember…increasing the likelihood that they will be able to find you again.
- It looks a lot cleaner and more more professional than a lengthy automated blog URL.
- It is better for search engine/ranking purposes.
These three things ultimately add up to the strengthening of your blog and your ‘brand’ identity which in turn will bring growth to your blog. Good right?!
There are many hosts for custom domain names, but the one I like the most and have found to be the most reliable is Nettica. It can be intimidating to set up a custom domain (I find it to be very challenging even though I’ve done it several times), but most blog hosts give detailed instructions for you to follow along with. If you’re still stuck, try asking a friend or someone you trust online for their assistance. And if all else fails you may want to look into hiring a web designer to edit this portion of your site. For something so simple you should not have to spend much money at all.
A little side note: Please don’t ever, ever, ever use an underscore character when naming your site. When I first began blogging (knowing nothing about the field at all) I used one in my URL and ended up working on a blog for 1.5 years before realizing that that one “illegal” character alone was making it unreadable by countless servers around the world. In order to fix the problem I literally had to scrap my entire blog and start over again. So please learn from my mistake and keep clear of the pesky underscore.
- ADOPT A REGULAR POSTING SCHEDULE
One thing I learned early on is that the more regular your posting schedule is the happier and more loyal your readers will be. I think it is important to be honest with yourself about the time you want and are able to invest in your blog. This amount of time may change in the future as your blog evolves, but it’s a good idea to take a look at what you can manage right now. You don’t need to conquer the blog world overnight. Blogger burnout is a very real thing and nobody wants to see it happen to you. One thing I personally have to remind myself of regularly is that I cannot possibly post every amazing thing I see. Yes, there will be many times when another blogger will get to a story before I do, someone who will write more content than I can, etc. But at the end of the day I know that I put myself into my blog…and I can be okay with that.
- OFFER RELIABLE CONTENT
Again this is something that you will likely come into over time, but the general idea is to consistently deliver content that is within a general theme. That theme can be broad or very fine-tuned…but whatever it is, make it you. There is nothing quite so off-putting as frequenting a blog that you count on to deliver a certain type of inspiring content…clicking over one day and discovering that they’ve posted about something completely off-theme such as heating ducts or sports-cars. Through a blog you build relationships and trust with your readers, and this trust is formed in large part by demonstrating that day after day you will be a reliable source for content they love.
I’ll be talking in depth about Finding Your Voice / Niche in an upcoming post, so stay tuned for that.
- BE ORIGINAL – BE YOU
There is a percentage of bloggers with the method of simply rehashing what has already been blogged by other bloggers. Yes, you can build a somewhat successful blog by doing it this way, but I personally find it to be a rather tacky practice (especially when no credit is given to the original source). It is true that the online world is not a vacuum. We will come across content from other bloggers that we just have to share (with credit of course), will receive the same press releases from companies and artists and read the same publications as one another. It’s impossible to avoid. What I’m trying to get at here has more to do with sharing your passion for a subject matter than anything else. Find that thing or things that makes you tick and let the blog world know. Shout it from the rooftops, parade it in the streets. Passion is contagious and a steady following of loyal readers is sure to follow.
- LINK LOVE
One of the oldest “tricks” in the book for growing your blog is to share the blog link love. It may seem counterintuitive to direct readers to other blogs, but I believe that doing so does a few things:
- Linking to other blogs that you enjoy on a personal level aligns your site with theirs in a subtle but clear way.
- Many times you will receive a link back to your site from someone you’ve linked to. Link love at its best.
- You are giving your readers options and showing that you are a “team player” in blogland.
For immediate results I also highly recommend the free service LinkWithin (you can see it at the bottom of each post here on my blog). I had used the service in the past but forgot to bring it over with me when I relocated to Squarespace. Since adding it just last week I’ve seen a huge spike in extra page views (10,700 in the past week to be more precise).
Next week for Part 2 on this topic I will be talking about the use of social networking sites, targeted growth strategies (such as giveaways), and more. I hope to see you then. xo Ez
As always you can print this article using the ‘print friendly’ button found at the bottom of this post. And please feel free to chime in and share any advice, thoughts or questions you may have regarding this topic in the comment section below!